MOSCOW, July 1. /TASS/. Aviation of the Russian Defense Ministry has initiated the search for the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s Ilyushin Il-76 plane that went missing in the Irkutsk region on Friday morning, the ministry press service reported.
"By order of the Russian defense minister, two helicopters of the army aviation have started rendering assistance to the group involved in the search for the Emergencies Ministry’s Il-76 plane that went missing in the Irkutsk region," the Defense Ministry said.
Two more planes - an Antonov An-12 and An-26 of the Russian Aerospace Forces will soon be redeployed from the airfield in the Novosibirsk region to an airdrome in Bratsk from where they will fly to search for the missing Il-76.
The Il-76 plane did not go on the air for a radio contact at 06:30 am, Moscow time on Friday. The plane was equipped with an airborne spray tank for fighting wildfires in the Bayandayevsky district of the Irkutsk region. Only the crew comprising 10 people was on board. The plane disappeared in a remote area. The Emergencies Ministry sent about 100 rescuers for the search. Nine aircraft are currently involved in the search operation.
The crew members of the missing Il-76 plane are from Moscow and they have accumulated huge fire-fighting experience, a source in emergency services told TASS. "The crew members have a huge experience of fire-fighting operations, delivery of humanitarian relief supplies and other air rescue missions," the source said.
The missing Il-76 plane was in good repair, a source in the regional aviation services told TASS earlier. "The plane was in good condition, it passed all the required pre-flight procedures and it was technically faultless," the source said. According to him, the plane’s next regular maintenance operations were due only in 267 hours.
The Il-76 plane of the Russian Emergencies Ministry is the world’s largest fire-fighting plane. Dubbed the water bomber, it can drop 42 tons of water at a time on a hot spot.